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Old 23rd December 2015, 11:26   #61
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

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Originally Posted by shekatkar31 View Post
Excellent trip report!

I had been to the valley a long time ago. This brings back a lot of memories.
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Originally Posted by vashisth View Post
Excellent travelogue woven with real-life pics !! I remained glued till the end of the story. Very helpful for enthusiast traveller, also gives lot of confidence to the sedan owners for such a long and unpredictable ride.
Thank You Sir's.

Long and unpredictable ride it was, but the ethereal landscapes made us push ourselves and the car to an extent which normally we wouldn't have done. At the end of the day, we were pleasantly surprised with the abilities of our low-slung sedan.
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Old 5th January 2016, 15:44   #62
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

Superb report!! Loved every bit of it.

It was tough to read the text when you had such amazing pictures of Kashmir alongside. I never knew of certain places you went in Kashmir - from Srinagar, and the places close to Anantnag. This would be a perfect circuit with greenery in J&K to take elders, and kids who wouldn't be so excited about a Leh drive in J&K which would be dry and devoid of vegetation. Will come back to you when I plan one.

I had done Delhi-Leh-Delhi in Sep '14 with 2 other friends. Due to the Kashmir floods our plans got changed last minute and instead of going via Srinagar we had to take Manali route to Leh. While coming back, we took Srinagar route but then too, we couldn't take the Patnitop route as it was one-way, alternating each day, and we were blocked when we crossed Anantnag as it was open for oncoming traffic that day. So without knowing much about Mughal Road, we had to take it to Jammu as per the advice from J&K Police, if we wanted to continue the same day.

Your pictures, and references brought back fond memories of driving through Mughal road which was totally unplanned one for us, but nevertheless a mesmerising drive. Thanks.
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Old 6th January 2016, 11:11   #63
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

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Originally Posted by gk_fiesta View Post
Superb report!! Loved every bit of it.

It was tough to read the text when you had such amazing pictures of Kashmir alongside. I never knew of certain places you went in Kashmir - from Srinagar, and the places close to Anantnag. This would be a perfect circuit with greenery in J&K to take elders, and kids who wouldn't be so excited about a Leh drive in J&K which would be dry and devoid of vegetation. Will come back to you when I plan one.

I had done Delhi-Leh-Delhi in Sep '14 with 2 other friends. Due to the Kashmir floods our plans got changed last minute and instead of going via Srinagar we had to take Manali route to Leh. While coming back, we took Srinagar route but then too, we couldn't take the Patnitop route as it was one-way, alternating each day, and we were blocked when we crossed Anantnag as it was open for oncoming traffic that day. So without knowing much about Mughal Road, we had to take it to Jammu as per the advice from J&K Police, if we wanted to continue the same day.

Your pictures, and references brought back fond memories of driving through Mughal road which was totally unplanned one for us, but nevertheless a mesmerising drive. Thanks.
Thank You sir. I would be more than happy to help you with your plan.

The Mughal Road is indeed a mesmerising drive. I had always wanted to explore this part of the country specially the drive through the Mughal Road and to Sinthan Top. History lesson aside, these alternative roads between Jammu and Srinagar are very scenic, have minimal traffic and are a hoot to drive on. The usual highway via Udhampur - Banihal - Anantnag is in a mess, better to avoid anyday !
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Old 3rd February 2016, 14:56   #64
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

This is a great travelogue M//. What I liked most about your write up was the fact that you have explained the history behind each place you visited. I must say I found your travelogue very intersting because of the historical signifance.
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Old 4th February 2016, 10:46   #65
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

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Originally Posted by pduttaghy View Post
This is a great travelogue M//. What I liked most about your write up was the fact that you have explained the history behind each place you visited. I must say I found your travelogue very intersting because of the historical signifance.
Thank You Sir.

While most students back in school used to wait for the lunch break, I used to patiently wait for the History class. But that was only when we were being taught about the Mughal period, I never had such fascination for the British era or any other historical era. The Mughal Era, though, has always fascinated me - specially the Mughal architecture !
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Old 29th March 2016, 22:34   #66
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

Awesome TL M//, could serve as a primer for anybody wanting to drive through the mesmerizing valley which I am

Am planning to hire a black board (Zoomcar etc) and drive from Delhi to the valley next month, should I be worried about the attitude of the local cabbies? Furthermore, mine will have commercial plates as opposed to a privately owned vehicle.

What is the total length of the Mughal road from Katra to Yusmarg and how much driving time should I budget for? Will start from NCR on day 1 and stay overnight before driving onto Yusmarg, would you recommend staying overnight at Udhampur or Katra?

Seeing some snow is high on the agenda for our little girl, what would be our best bet? Sonamarg, Gulmarg or Sinthan top? Would like a place where we are not harassed by drivers and touts. Also am guessing we will have to live our car behind at some of these places and hire a local cab.

Is it safe to roam around in Srinagar or for that matter the other destinations after dark and as for the JKTDC properties, do they offer huts or rooms and which ones are more value for money?

And finally, any more recommendations for places in and around to drive to, loved the bit about your excursion to the Gurez valley, would love to do something similar and at the same time keep in mind that a small child is with us and the drive shouldnt become arduous.

Too many questions, look forward to your reply and TIA
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Old 30th March 2016, 10:01   #67
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

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Originally Posted by hothatchaway View Post
Awesome TL M//, could serve as a primer for anybody wanting to drive through the mesmerizing valley which I am

Am planning to hire a black board (Zoomcar etc) and drive from Delhi to the valley next month, should I be worried about the attitude of the local cabbies? Furthermore, mine will have commercial plates as opposed to a privately owned vehicle.

What is the total length of the Mughal road from Katra to Yusmarg and how much driving time should I budget for? Will start from NCR on day 1 and stay overnight before driving onto Yusmarg, would you recommend staying overnight at Udhampur or Katra?

Seeing some snow is high on the agenda for our little girl, what would be our best bet? Sonamarg, Gulmarg or Sinthan top? Would like a place where we are not harassed by drivers and touts. Also am guessing we will have to live our car behind at some of these places and hire a local cab.

Is it safe to roam around in Srinagar or for that matter the other destinations after dark and as for the JKTDC properties, do they offer huts or rooms and which ones are more value for money?

And finally, any more recommendations for places in and around to drive to, loved the bit about your excursion to the Gurez valley, would love to do something similar and at the same time keep in mind that a small child is with us and the drive shouldnt become arduous.

Too many questions, look forward to your reply and TIA
Thank You for the appreciation.

Driving a self-drive Zoomcar (or similar) is not an issue in Kashmir as of now. So please go ahead with your plan. Only thing is have a lot of patience while overtaking/making way for local cabbies as they are quite a nuisance.

If you do not intend to visit Udhampur or Katra, you may take the road from Jammu towards Akhnoor, Sunderbani and Rajouri. This will avoid Katra and Udhampur. You may stay in Jammu that night. Next day, Jammu to Yusmarg will easily take 12-13 hours with ample stops. The Mughal Road (from Bafliaz to Shopian) will beg you to stop often so do have ample time in hand. Leave early from Jammu at about 6 am so that you can easily reach Yusmarg before sundown as the roads after Pulwama till Yusmarg are a little tricky with no signboards so exercise caution in that stretch and its better to reach Yusmarg by 5-6 pm so that you can enjoy the evening strolling in the lovely meadows.

I do not think you will have to leave the car and hire a cab anywhere but Gulmarg is dominated by some kind of mafia so park your car safely. Also Gulmarg is a very touristy place so its better if you reach there early in the day whenever you plan to go there.

This year it has snowed till February in the Himalayas so its likely you will find snow in most of the places - Mughal Road, Gulmarg (specially if you take the Gondola Ride), Sonamarg and Sinthan Top. However, Sinthan Top is the safest bet. No taxi mafia, way less touristy, amazing roads, spectacular valleys and 100% guaranteed snow. The road to Sinthan Top from Daksum is amazing, but the Kishtwar to Sinthan Top stretch is unknown to me.

Safe to roam around till late evening in Srinagar and Pahalgam, not so much in other places. I did not stay in JKTDC Srinagar so cannot comment, but JKTDC Yusmarg, Pahalgam and Daksum are all huts. Yusmarg and Daksum has huts with two separate rooms each while Pahalgam has huts with two connected rooms. Please note these JKTDC properties are not too luxurious, they offer basic comfort and space and are usually located in beautiful locations which is their USP. So do not expect top notch services, rather enjoy the laidback charm of staying in a cottage located in lush green meadows.

You may also include Patnitop and Sanasar in your itinerary but both are usually crowded with tourists from around the country. Other places of interest could be the Lolab Valley but I think you need Inner-Line-Permits (or some kind of Permit from the Police/Army) to visit places like Kupwara and Chandigam.

The usual Jammu-Srinagar route is in a mess so I would highly recommend you to take Mughal Road on your way to Srinagar. On your way back, you may brave the Daksum - Sinthan Top - Kishtwar - Udhampur route. Till Sinthan Top the road is amazing and I have heard that Kishtwar to Udhampur road is good as well (my friend saw a Merc C250 in Kishtwar so obviously the road won't be that bad). Udhampur-Jammu is a tarmac-licking-good 4-lane highway. So basically the Sinthan Top - Kishtwar 80 odd kms stretch is a little unknown.

If not the Sinthan Top - Kishtwar route, then you may take the route I took from Daksum on my way back via Verinag and then onto the Srinagar- Jammu highway. Till Udhampur its a pain with frequent traffic jams, post that the amazing 4-lane highway will greet you.

Let me know if you have any more queries. All the best and drive safe.


EDIT 1: Most importantly, do ensure you have enough fuel and cash in hand in smaller places like Mughal Road, Yusmarg, Daksum, Lolab Valley, etc as you will not find an ATM Machine for miles in any direction and nowhere cards are accepted so cash in hand is must.

EDIT 2: Also finding a decent restaurant in these places is quite a task. Kashmiris generally eat a lot of non-veg food so if you are a vegetarian, do carry some dry food items with you just in case you do not find a restaurant of your choice. In case you are a non-vegetarian, you will thank the Gods for the amazing Wazwaan and Kashmiri cuisine !!

Last edited by //M : 30th March 2016 at 10:14.
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Old 7th April 2016, 14:07   #68
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

Thanks for sharing the TL. I am also in the process of finalizing my plan - Chennai - Deoghar - Agra - Katra - Srinagar - Amritsar - Delhi - Deoghar - Chennai. The detailed itinerary is a WIP. I am travelling with my wife and 2.5 yrs kid till Deoghar and my parents will be joining from there. My plan for J&K is to visit Katra for Mata Darshan, Shikara ride on the Dal lake and see my kid play with snow. So one day for reaching Srinagar from Katra and do the Shikara ride, one day to Sonamarg and back to Srinagar and one extra day at a recommended place if required. I will be travelling on my Ritz ZDi starting the middle of this month.
Your suggestions/recommendations will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
Anand
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Old 7th April 2016, 14:32   #69
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

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Originally Posted by Roads&Wheels View Post
Thanks for sharing the TL. I am also in the process of finalizing my plan - Chennai - Deoghar - Agra - Katra - Srinagar - Amritsar - Delhi - Deoghar - Chennai. The detailed itinerary is a WIP. I am travelling with my wife and 2.5 yrs kid till Deoghar and my parents will be joining from there. My plan for J&K is to visit Katra for Mata Darshan, Shikara ride on the Dal lake and see my kid play with snow. So one day for reaching Srinagar from Katra and do the Shikara ride, one day to Sonamarg and back to Srinagar and one extra day at a recommended place if required. I will be travelling on my Ritz ZDi starting the middle of this month.
Your suggestions/recommendations will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
Anand
If you plan to travel via the Mughal Road to Srinagar from Katra, then you will encounter plenty of glaciers and ice walls en route. It takes more or less the same amount of time, give or take an hour or so. The plus point is the Mughal Road is usually traffic-free and very scenic compared to the usual Jammu - Srinagar route.

You will also encounter a few glaciers in Sonamarg as well but the frequency of such encounters is not to the tune of the ones in Mughal Road.

To play with snow, the best possible option in the limited time frame is Gulmarg. Just an hour and half away from Srinagar, leave early in the day and do the Gondola ride that will take you to some lovely snowy slopes.

Alternatively you may stay in Gulmarg for a night instead of Srinagar. The stay options are comparatively expensive but with snow capped peaks and verdant meadows all around, it is worth the penny.

My experience with the locals at Gulmarg was not very pleasant specially since the taxi drivers saw an outside registered car. So please exercise caution and park the car safely before you embark on the Gondola ride. If you are lucky, they may allow you to park the car close to the Gondola ride ticketing counter or else you will have to park the car at a distance and then walk down all the way. Leaving early in the day for the ride (depending upon the timings of the Gondola ride) will be really helpful.

All the best in planning your trip. Drive safe.
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Old 13th April 2016, 17:47   #70
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

There has been a change in the plan as my parents won't be joining. I'll now be driving through Hubli-Pune-Amritsar while going and will return via Delhi-Allahabad to Deoghar and then back to Chennai. The exact stays will be planned en route depending on how much we can manage to travel per day and there will be no driving after dark. The current political/student scenario is something I am a bit worried about, and the J&K plan will be formulated after reaching Katra based on the situation there.
Few questions - was there excessive tiredness after walking back after the Darshan and did it affected the next day drive in any way? Also, are there places to sleep/take rest for some time while walking up to Vaishno Devi? Is it advisable to carry camera/phones and is there a safe place to deposit these before Darshan?
Thanks.
Anand
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Old 15th April 2016, 13:56   #71
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

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Few questions - was there excessive tiredness after walking back after the Darshan and did it affected the next day drive in any way?
If you notice my post on Mata Darshan, we had started walking at late evening to avoid the sun. By early morning we had reached the Shrine and after the darshan we were back in Katra by afternoon the next day.

After reaching back, we were tired so we slept like a log the remaining part of the day. The next morning we all were fresh to embark our journey on the Mughal Road.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roads&Wheels View Post
Also, are there places to sleep/take rest for some time while walking up to Vaishno Devi? Is it advisable to carry camera/phones and is there a safe place to deposit these before Darshan?
Thanks.
Anand
Yes there are a few rest-houses but they are very dirty and not worth a stay. There are cloak-rooms near the Shrine but again the rush and the long queue doesn't guarantee a place in the cloak-room so you may have to wait longer to actually deposit the things.

We did not carry any cameras and carried just one mobile phone. After reaching there, we thought we will deposit them at the cloak-rooms but the queue was so huge and with people madly fighting for space, we chose to keep the phone and a bag containing dry fruits and water bottles just by the side of the walkway and covered it with a towel. When we were back, we saw our belongings kept as it is.

I suggest its better not to carry anything. If lucky, you may not find too much crowd at the cloak-rooms but in most cases the crowd will leave you frustrated. If at all you are carrying camera/mobile phones, its better to book a room at a guest house near the Shrine so that you can keep your belongings safely.

Hope this bit of info helps.
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